Pastors & Power: What to do?

Theology Forum contributor Kyle Strobel co-wrote an important essay for Christianity Today about pastors and power. You can click here to read the whole essay. But I want to highlight an excerpt that stole my attention, and offer a few comments. Kyle and Jamin Goggin write:

While toxic power is surely a dangerous and corrosive agent in the church, there is another form of power we are called to embrace. Kingdom power is power in weakness for the sake of love. It is power grounded in humble dependence upon God and wielded in service and blessing. This is the power modeled by Christ. Therefore the cross defines kingdom power, and as such the world deems it foolish and weak (1 Cor. 1:18).

This is an important distinction. We cannot throw power out altogether, because that would be dishonest. “The Christian life,” they write, “is a call to power (2 Cor. 12:9–10), and more specifically, God has vested the pastoral office with authority.” The question is what kind of power do we have? 

When I was preaching on Ephesians last fall, I was drawn to a passage in Ephesians 3. Paul prays that the Ephesians would be “strengthened with might through God’s Spirit in the inner person, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.” As Kyle and Jamin write, Christian power is power “grounded in humble dependence on God.” But I think I’d say it even more strongly: Christian life is itself power that derives from Christ’s love. And it is through the power of Christ’s love that the “powers and principalities” of the world are confronted (Eph. 3:10).

Thanks, Kyle and Jamin, for writing this important meditation.


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